How to grow rocket or arugula from seed in your edible garden, including rocket growing tips and what to do when rocket bolts.
Rocket or arugula is one of the easiest and quickest green leafy vegetables to grow. It’s one of those “cut and come again” edible plants that keeps on giving. If you’re after a crop that you can harvest in no time, this is one of the best to get you started.
How to Grow Rocket
Rocket (eruca sativa) is a leafy vegetable commonly used in salads. Its large green serrated leaves have with a peppery flavour. It can easily grow in ground or in any container. During my first season of gardening, I used a clean foam box, the kind that’s used to transport vegetables. I lined it with thin clear plastic bags punctured with holes for drainage.
Rocket can be grown all year round but it tends to bolt during the hotter months. Sow in spring or autumn in well-draining soil enriched with compost and fertiliser in full sun or part shade.
- plant type: annual
- season: best in spring and autumn (temperate zone, Australia)
- method: direct sow
- sow depth: 3mm
- position: part or full sun
- time to germinate: 6 to 10 days
- time to harvest: 30 to 60 days
- watering requirements: moist soil
Make a trench 3 mm deep in the soil and sow the seeds by scattering them over the soil. Cover with seed raising mix and keep it moist. Rocket germinates in 6 to 10 days and is ready to harvest in about 30 to 60 days.
Rocket / Arugula Growing Tips
- Once you’ve sown the seeds, lightly mist the soil with water from a spray bottle instead of a watering can or hose so as not to disturb the tiny seeds.
- About 7-8 weeks after planting, when the rocket has reached full size, you can cut the plants back to ground level which encourages new shoots to grow.
- Harvest the leaves regularly to get the best flavour and to encourage new growth.
- It’s best to harvest rocket when the leaves are young before they turn bitter.
- To ensure a continual harvest, sow another set of seeds in another container 2 to 3 weeks later.
When Rocket Bolts
When the temperature heats up, rocket can bolt (ie it flowers then goes to seed). The plant puts its energy into flowering instead of the leaves. There’s no need to pull out the plant. The flowers are not only pretty, they’re edible and they attract pollinators. Once the seed pods have formed, they can be harvested for future planting. Simply leave the pods to dry on the plant and once they’ve turned brown, pick them off the plant and harvest the seeds.
If you’re a novice gardener and you enjoy rocket, give it a go. It’s one of the easiest green leafy vegetables to grow and you’ll soon be enjoying your very own home-grown peppery leaves.
Want to Know More?
You’ll find more information on how to grow rocket, which varieties to try, how to pair it with food and spirits, and how to use rocket in cocktails including a full recipe in my 260+ page digital book GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN available now.